DiscoverBig Fish in the Middle Kingdom#008 - Acting in China, Los Angeles & London | Matthew Knowles
#008 - Acting in China, Los Angeles & London | Matthew Knowles

#008 - Acting in China, Los Angeles & London | Matthew Knowles

Update: 2017-07-07
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My guest this week is American actor Matthew Knowles. Matthew's story is pretty incredible: he played football at Clemson and had a real shot at playing professionally, but had his NFL dreams crushed along with his knee during his senior year. A humble guy, he decided to take a break and help others while he healed himself, and he ended up teaching English in Guizhou Province in rural China. He mastered Mandarin, was discovered singing Chinese karaoke by a talent agent in a bar, and was launched on his path to becoming a TV star and film actor in China. Along the way, he became the first non-Asian to study acting at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy, which is essentially the Harvard of filmmaking in China, only more selective. 
 
Cut to 2017: having made a significant name for himself in China, Matthew has relocated to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and master stage acting. Meanwhile, he looks forward to the 2018 release of Asura, a giant Chinese $100M USD fantasy movie that provided him with what looks to be his breakout role, starring as Rawa, a heroic demigod battling evil. The film looks awesome and will hopefully cross borders and bridge cultures in much the same way that Matthew himself has been doing in his work and in his life. Enjoy!
 
One quick reminder that we are still a featured show on the Castbox.fm website and the Castbox podcast app! Castbox works in your web browser and they also have an iOS app, but they have an especially nice app for Android devices. Please check us out on Castbox, and SUBSCRIBE to the show wherever you listen to us. Thanks!
 
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#041 - Disney, Beijing Film Academy, & Magic Dumpling | Kevin Geiger
This week’s guest is Kevin Geiger. Kevin is a founding partner of creative development company Magic Dumpling. Kevin has a pioneering, lifelong background in animation and VR, working on and off at Disney for many years both in Burbank and China, as well as building two versions of Magic Dumpling between Disney stints. He also owns a children’s book company called Peewee Frog that is doing some really cool stuff.  Among all the great points that Kevin makes based on his extensive experience and perspective working here is the main, macro one - namely, that China IS changing, but that it won't change for YOU. We also discuss the point that you can’t view China and attempt to solve any challenges you may be having in dealing with or understanding it through an outside lens, especially a western one. To interact successfully and satisfyingly here, you have to gain some real local perspective and develop an alternate set of instincts that are relevant for this reality as it is, not what you imagine it to be. Lots of food for thought in this episode, and many good words to heed before diving into anything over here.  But it's not all serious; in fact, it's mostly a fast, fun and (hopefully) funny talk, and I hope you enjoy it. Links to check out all of Kevin's very cool enterprises are in the show notes; if you're a China-curious creative, this episode is especially a don't-miss.  Before we get into the interview I want to take a minute and tell you about our sponsor, Stackry. Stackryis the global leader in international parcel forwarding from the US to anywhere in the world. The way it works is that you shop at any US retailer, have your packages shipped to your Stackry address, and once everything has arrived, Stackry consolidates your stuff and ships it to you anywhere in the world, even China, saving you up to 80% of the shipping costs versus shipping things directly from the store. Stackry provides free storage, same day consolidation of your packages, and a tax-free US address for you to use. I have an update on my own Stackry story: I see from the Stackry website that I’ve had one big batch of items delivered to their warehouse in New Hampshire, and I have one last order on it’s way to them. As soon as everything arrives, Stackry will do their packing consolidation magic and get everything moving towards me here in Beijing. I’ll update you as my Stackry story continues, and it’s really easy to use their site and get yours started, too. Sign up TODAY via the link below, and use the offer code BIGFISH at the checkout to save 10% off your first shipment.  Enjoy! Please SUBSCRIBE to “Big Fish in the Middle Kingdom” at: Apple Podcasts / iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/big-fish-in-the-middle-kingdom/id1237037187?mt=2 Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=174877&refid=stpr SPONSOR: Stackry “Big Fish in the Middle Kingdom” sign-up link: http://bit.ly/BigFish2018 Use the offer code BIGFISH at the checkout, and save 10% off your first shipment! GUEST: Kevin Geiger links: Personal website - www.kevingeiger.com Linkedin profile - www.linkedin.com/in/kevingeiger Magic Dumpling's website - www.magicdumpling.com Peewee Frog's website - www.peeweefrog.com VR/AR/animation blog - https://www.awn.com/blogs/reality-bites HOST / SHOW:  please LIKE “Big Fish in the Middle Kingdom” on Facebook:  Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis  Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux  Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/
#040 - Big in China | Alan Paul
This week's guest is Alan Paul. Alan is a former Guitar World and Wall Street Journal writer from the US who somehow became a notable Beijing-based blues musician. Alan wrote a memoir called Big in China about his crazy musical experiences here, and tells the story of how it all began - thanks to a broken guitar, a Chinese repairman who was also a secret musical wizard, and their shared love of Stevie Ray Vaughn. And in a strangely related note, Alan also has a huge connection to legendary Southern rock group the Allman Brothers Band. From writing about and interviewing them over a 25 year period, Alan became an insider in their world, and he talks a lot about his best-selling Allmans book One Way Out. The story of how it came to be, in part, because of Allmans drummer Butch Trucks’ discovery of and respect for Alan’s China book is pretty awesome. Great talk. "Big Fish in the Middle Kingdom" is sponsored by STACKRY. Stackry is the global leader in international parcel forwarding from the US to anywhere in the world. The way it works is that you shop at any US retailer, have your packages shipped to your Stackry address, and once everything has arrived, Stackry consolidates your stuff and ships it to you anywhere in the world, even China, saving you up to 80% of the shipping costs versus shipping things directly from the store. Stackry provides free storage, same day consolidation of your packages, and a tax-free US address for you to use. Sign up TODAY via the link below, and use the offer code BIGFISH at the checkout to save 10% off your first shipment. Lastly, the "Big Fish in the Middle Kingdom" Facebook group has really been growing lately, and the show is now also available on the Stitcher platform! Apple Podcasts and iTunes downloads and subscriptions are still as important as ever, but I’d also really like to have a nice showing on Stitcher our first few weeks if possible, so please check out the Facebook group, SUBSCRIBE in Apple Podcasts and/or Stitcher if you want to help the show find new fans, and thanks in advance!   SUBSCRIBE to “Big Fish in the Middle Kingdom” at:  Apple Podcasts / iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/big-fish-in-the-middle-kingdom/id1237037187?mt=2 Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=174877&refid=stpr   SPONSOR:  Stackry “Big Fish in the Middle Kingdom” sign-up link: http://bit.ly/BigFish2018  Use the offer code BIGFISH at the checkout, and save 10% off your first shipment!   GUEST:  Alan Paul LINKS:  www.facebook.com/alanpaulauthor  www.alanpaul.net/blog  One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band  Big in China audio book: http://amzn.to/2FaeKcm  Big in China Band  Friends of the Brothers band   HOST / SHOW:  please LIKE “Big Fish in the Middle Kingdom” on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMiddleKingdom/  Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis  Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux  Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/
#039 - China Business Secrets, Space Programs, & UFOs | Peter Levenda
This week’s show, and show notes, are both longer than usual - but with very good reason! Hang on, it’s going to be a fun and occasionally wild ride...   My guest today, for the first show in the Year of the Dog, is none other than internationally esteemed writer and lecturer Peter Levenda. Mr. Levenda has a truly massive and very influential body of work, including his groundbreaking China business book “The Mao of Business”, and he is considered to be something of a legend in certain circles. For roughly 40 years, Levenda has taken a very rational, scientific and historical approach to researching topics that are most commonly viewed through a conspiracy theory lens, and he’s won the respect of mainstream scientists, academics, and fans around the world as a result.    Lately, Levenda is most well-known for his work with former rockstar @TomDeLonge of Blink182 and his “To The Stars” initiative, which is responsible for facilitating the recent high-level US Government disclosures regarding the UFO phenomenon, as reported on the front page of The New York Times and other newspapers around the world. This is an outgrowth of Levenda's earlier work writing extensively on post-WW2 issues related to the fate of various bad guys who escaped Germany and their subsequent roles in the founding of the US space program and other intrigues. But what’s most relevant to OUR show today is Levenda’s passionate interest in and pioneering role doing international trade with China, beginning in 1984.   Among other topics, we discuss: his early studies doing translations of Chinese alchemical texts as he earned his Master’s degree, and their relationship to Cabalistic material; his 34+ year career working with and traveling in China, and his impressions of how the country has grown and evolved as he has met and worked with people from all walks of life here; the disconnect between the “virtual China” that most outsiders conceive of versus the reality of the place; China’s sense of itself and how approaching it with a colonial, antagonistic attitude is a recipe for disaster; how China’s own space program will likely distinguish itself in the near future; the broader power dynamics at play in the East versus the West and what a smart China strategy should consider; and much more. We also cover the “To The Stars” project somewhat as well as other random tangents that pop up here and there, so it’s a relative buffet of Levenda goodness.    This one gets very philosophical yet is extremely practical too. Peter is not only learned, he is also dryly funny and we had a wonderful chat. With all due respect to my other guests, I have to say that this is possibly my favorite episode of the show so far, so I really hope you’ll give it a listen and that you enjoy it if you do!   Also - we have a NEW, international sponsor this week! Stackry is the global leader in international parcel forwarding from the US to anywhere in the world.  The way it works is that you shop at any US retailer, have your packages shipped to your Stackry address, and once everything has arrived, Stackry consolidates your stuff and ships it to you anywhere in the world, even China, saving you up to 80% of the shipping costs versus shipping things directly from the store. Stackry provides free storage, same day consolidation of your packages, and a tax-free US address for you to use. I’m building my very first Stackry shipment from the US to China right now; it’s really easy to use their site and get started. Sign up TODAY via the link below, and use the offer code BIGFISH at the checkout to save 10% off your first shipment.    Alright! This is a giant intro, but it’s a pretty epic show. All the links are also available on the blog page at crazyinagoodway.com. Now, please enjoy my interview with Peter Levenda.   SPONSOR: Stackry “Big Fish in the Middle Kingdom” sign-up link: http://bit.ly/BigFish2018 Use the offer code BIGFISH at the checkout, and save 10% off your first shipment!   GUEST: Peter Levenda website: http://peterlevenda.com |  Peter Levenda on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Levenda/100012276609499 |  Peter Levenda on Twitter: @Peter_Levenda   “To The Stars” website: https://coi.tothestarsacademy.com The New York times article referenced in the show:  "Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program"  https://nyti.ms/2kB62aH   HOST / SHOW: Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis |  Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux |  Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/
#032 - True Run Media  | Mike Wester
My guest this week is Mike Wester, co-founder of True Run Media, which publishes The Beijinger, Jing Kids, and more. In the episode we talk about Mike's journey from the Boston area to Taiwan, back to the US for grad school, and then his ultimate move to Beijing, a city he's called home for 17 years. Mike and his team have built quite a publishing presence in China, and his thoughtful insights on society reflect a deep passion for quality journalism and the people it impacts - i.e., all of us. In this episode I also discuss my upcoming special New Year’s show, an appearance I’ll be making on CGTN soon talking about film in China, the podcast’s holiday fundraising drive, and much more. Full details are in the show intro and all the links are available in the show notes below or via the blog post at https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/home/2017/12/27/mike-wester so check it out. Enjoy!   Mike Wester contact: mwinchina   True Run Media brands: thebeijinger.com beijing-kids.com jingkids.com QR codes for all Official Accounts available in blog post @ crazyinagoodway.com   AWA Health(mention the show and get a 20% discount): 4th Floor, THE PLACE mall Guanhua Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing China 137-1618-2745 (Chinese) 186-0083-9624 (English) QR code available in blog post @ crazyinagoodway.com   Holiday FUNDRAISING Drive - SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/   Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis   Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux   BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com    Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/
#031 - Writing & Reporting in Beijing, China  | Kyle Mullin
This week’s guest is Kyle Mullin. Kyle is a Canadian journalist who works as a writer and editor at The Beijinger. In the episode we discuss Kyle’s environmentally-conscious focus, which he first discovered as a writer in college. This passion set him on a path that ended up at The Beijinger, where he writes a regular "Beicology” column (Beijing + Ecology) in addition to his food & beverage, music, and other social interests. This is my longest episode ever, but it moves fast and we cover a lot of ground; I loved going even more in-depth with this one and hope to do more like this in the future. Kyle and I discuss writing, our mutual affection for Marc Maron's WTF podcast, plus we do a special year-end look back at some of the big China stories of 2017, and much more.     This is also Week 2 of my monthlong Holiday Fundraising Drive for the podcast! If you’d like to materially support the show and make an expat podcaster smile for Christmas, please visit crazyinagoodway.com and visit the SUPPORT page, linked below, to spread a little holiday cheer and show your love.     This episode is sponsored by AWA Health. Whether you’re interested in relieving stress or soothing your lungs and body from being exposed to pollution, AWA Health offers great services to help you deal with the realities of living in the big city. AWA Health is offering a special Holiday VIP package combining an anti-stress flotation therapy session + an anti-pollution halotherapy session in the salt room for only 860RMB. This is normally a 1076 RMB value, so you save over 200 RMB. Book with Angelique directly via the QR code linked below, and tell her you're a "Big Fish in the Middle Kingdom" listener when you do!     Kyle Mullin articles and interview links: http://www.thebeijinger.com/category/blog-tags/beicology   http://www.macleans.ca/news/world/the-odds-and-evens-of-the-sun-shining-in-beijing-arent-good/   http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/12/12/being-a-proletariat-during-beijings-airpocalypse-china-smog-class-inequality/   https://thediplomat.com/2017/06/can-china-live-up-to-its-climate-fighting-promise/   https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2013/06/ai-weiwei.html   https://www.thebeijinger.com/blog/2017/12/02/brendan-davis-big-fish-middle-kingdom-podcast     AWA Health (mention the show and get a 20% discount): 4th Floor, THE PLACE mall Guanhua Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing China 137-1618-2745 (Chinese) 186-0083-9624 (English) QR code available in blog post @ crazyinagoodway.com   Holiday FUNDRAISING Drive - SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/   Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis     Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux     BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com      Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/      
#030 - Health & Wellness in China | Angelique Peng
My guest this week is Angelique Peng. Angelique is from Singapore, has studied in London, lived in Los Angeles, and she’s now an entrepreneur in Beijing. She is a partner in AWA Health, and yes, they are a sponsor of the show, but this is not an informercial! In the episode we talk about Angelique’s highly interesting background, her mission with the company, how their sponsorship of the show came to be, and much more. I also give a little shoutout to my long-time friend and certified creative genius, Carl King, who created the music in Big Fish in the Middle Kingdom, and his new show “The Oracle of Outer Space”, as well as the holiday fundraising drive for this very podcast. Links to everything are in the show notes or can be found as always on my website, crazyinagoodway.com. Enjoy!   Angelique Peng article:http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/Cgg7g0wP9TYCPdflr8inYw   AWA Health(mention the show and get a 20% discount):4th Floor, THE PLACE mall Guanhua Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing China 137-1618-2745 (Chinese) 186-0083-9624 (English) QR code available in blog post @ crazyinagoodway.com   Carl King’s “The Oracle of Outer Space!"https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/carlking/the-oracle-of-outer-space-animated-tv-show-pilot?ref=discovery&term=Oracle%20of%20outer%20space%20 https://www.facebook.com/oracleofouterspace/ http://carlkingdom.com   SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat:https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/   Brendan Davis on WeChat:BrendanDavis   Brendan Davis on Twitter:@VeritasInLux   BFMK website:https://www.crazyinagoodway.com    Other links to LISTEN:https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/
#029 - From Boston to Beijing | Mike Shaw
This week’s episode features Mike Shaw. Mike is a vegan PR professional from Boston who is fascinated by the extraordinary potential of the global expat community, and he aims to do something about it. In this episode we talk a lot about what it’s like to be here bearing witness to China’s ascendancy at this historic moment in history, and how global people like us can find our way in and find a purpose. As expats, we are at the leading edge of that, which is not always without its growing pains, but as wiser men than me have said: you buy the ticket, you take the ride.   We also touch on a few more esoteric topics, like the rise of the petro-yuan and the unique place that Boston has in the psyche of former Bostonians, withersoever dispersed around the globe. And towards the end, Mike shares the very cool love story of how he met and finally came together with his wife across three continents. It’s something special, and I think the more romantically inclined among you will especially appreciate it. Ultimately, this episode is a love letter to Boston and it is also a testimony to the incredible diversity of China, and how much Mike - and I - love being here and carving out our own new paths in ways that we really couldn’t do anywhere else in the whole world. Enjoy.   Mike Shaw contacts: https://twitter.com/zax2000 https://plus.google.com/+MikeShaw-zax2000   AWA Health(mention the show and get a 20% discount): 4th Floor, THE PLACE mall Guanhua Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing China 137-1618-2745 (Chinese) 186-0083-9624 (English) QR code available in blog post @ crazyinagoodway.com   Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis   Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux   BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com    Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/   SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/  
#028 - From Beijing to Boston | Fei Wu
My guest this week is Fei Wu, a “reverse laowai” who made the move FROM China TO the US. Fei is a native-born Beijinger who has now been living in the US for 17 years. Fei and I had a great talk. We discuss her origins in Beijing, her move to Maine to finish high school - where she became both the captain of the boys' hockey team AND the prom queen - and then her move to Boston for college and the cool life and business she’s built for herself there ever since. We also dive deep into WHY we both love podcasting, and oh, yeah: besides all of that, Fei is a third degree black belt, proving that not all podcasters are desk jockeys like myself. Links to Fei’s World and more are in the show notes below and in the blog post as always.   This episode also introduces our NEW sponsor, AWA Health! AWA Health is a unique facility, the first of its kind in Beijing, that among other specialities offers anti-stress flotation therapy. Listeners of the show get a 20% discount just by mentioning the show or my name when you book. Check the links below to get more information, and find the QR code in my blog post to contact the owner directly and book your session today.   And I’m pleased to be helping in a small way to support The Beijinger’s 7th Annual Hot Pepper Eating Contest, a fundraiser for the Maovember charity. I’ll be there shooting some footage for CrazyHot, a feature documentary film I’m helping produce that is the deepest dive ever undertaken into the origins, uses, foods, chilehead culture, and the medical future of ultrahot peppers from around the world. If you will be in Beijing on December 2 or would just like to make a donation to some very worthy causes, follow the links below to learn more.   Fei Wu and Fei’s World podcast: http://feisworld.com   AWA Health (mention the show and get a 20% discount): 4th Floor, THE PLACE mall Guanhua Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing China 137-1618-2745 (Chinese) 186-0083-9624 (English) QR code available in blog post @ crazyinagoodway.com   The Beijinger’s 7th Annual Hot Pepper Eating Contest : https://www.thebeijinger.com/blog/2017/11/29/gut-rupturing-peppers-prizes-chili-pepper-eating-contest   Maovember: www.maovember.com   Punjabi: http://punjabichina.com/   CrazyHot Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CrazyHotTheFilm/   Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis   Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux   BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com    Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/   SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/  
#024 - Maovember 2017 | Mike Wester, Claudia Masueger, Jim Boyce
This week’s episode was a special treat, a group roundtable discussion recorded live from XL Bar in Beijing for the kickoff of Maovember 2017. It features Jim Boyce, Mike Wester, and Claudia Masueger of the Maovember Steering Committee as they tell us what that is; more on them just in a moment.   But what is Maovember, you might ask? Well, you’ve heard of MOvember (right?) - it’s a month-long fundraising drive during November done in cities and towns around the world where people undertake various challenges and get their friends to sponsor them, with the proceeds going to local charities. The classic challenge is for men to grow their mustaches out, or not shave in general, for a month, but it’s branched out from there so that everyone can participate. In this down and dirty episode, we learn about the origins of the Beijing version of Movember and meet three of the gang of organizers behind the event...   Our guests are all multi-faceted folks, but the short version of their bios is that Jim Boyce is a food and wine writer and cultural commentator here who posts on his popular Beijing Boyce blog; Mike Wester is the head of True Run Media which publishes the top expat magazine and website The Beijinger; and Claudia Masueger is the CEO of Cheers Wines, making fine wine fun and affordable in China.   Claudia is also a Returning Champion on “Big Fish”, having been my guest for a full interview on lucky Episode #013. I will do full-length interviews with Mike and Jim as well when they let me, and you can check out Claudia’s interview wherever you got your hands on this one right here. Everyone is so generous with their time and resources in contributing to make Maovember a big success, that I want to do a little unpaid plug for everyone involved...   Please visit the guest’s links below, of course, and especially check out Maovember.com to learn more about Bread of Life and the Library Project, the two local charities that Maovember benefits. Bread of Life is a bakery that employs disabled people, and the Library Project, which furnishes reading rooms in needy schools.  These folks are doing selfless, amazing things to improve the quality of life of people who need it, and I’m glad to have also been convinced to join the cause this month. No more shaving or beard trimming for me until December 1 - yikes!   There are several surprises in this one, and I’ll spoil it maybe just a little and let you know that the name Maovember is NOT a political reference, actually, but it instead refers to a unit of currency. Check out the episode for more information, and to learn how to participate or for web links to learn more about the event, the charities benefited, or my guests, please visit the links in the show notes below.    Thanks and cheers!   Maovember official site: http://www.maovember.com   Jim Boyce / Beijing Boyce: http://beijingboyce.com   Mike Wester / The Beijinger: https://www.thebeijinger.com   CHEERS Wines: www.cheers-wines.com https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheers_Wines   XL Bar: https://www.thebeijinger.com/directory/xl-bar-and-restaurant   Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis   Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux   BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com    BFMK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMiddleKingdom/   Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/   SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/  
#023 - From CalMex to QMex | Marcus Medina
My guest today is Marcus Medina. Marcus is a chef from California by way of Mexico, Manhattan, and many stops in between. He’s also the food mastermind behind QMex and it’s sister restaurant here in Beijing, QMex Taqueria. If you’re a long-time listener to the show, you might swear I’m on the PR payroll for QMex, but it’s honestly my favorite restaurant in Beijing. I have always loved Mexican food, and being from California, where Marcus first developed his style, I especially love and relate to the flavors he brings to his dishes. There’s also the fun fact that my very first guest on the show, Loren Heinold, is a partner in the restaurant and gets some of the credit for me being able to enjoy it in the first place, so there’s that.      This interview was recorded just before the lunch rush earlier today on the patio outside of QMex, so there’s a little street noise but it’s not obtrusive. I liked how alive it made it feel so much that this interview is very unedited, which is impressive considering just how much both Marcus and me like to talk! My average interview probably has about 150 edits, mostly to remove random noises or unproductive tangents, or to shorten pauses between thoughts and keep a consistent pace, but Marcus and I found a groove right off the bat that rocked along so well that the edits are mostly to wait for a passing delivery cart or loud conversation to pass.      I have known Marcus just a little before doing this interview but when we sat down with no distractions and got into it, it felt like I'd really found a kindred spirit. At a surface level that makes sense, since we each have the gift of easy conversation and we both have California as a home in common - his my birth, mine by choice - and that goes a long way to explaining it. But as we talked, I realized that I related to Marcus’s story on a different, much more philosophical level too...      He talks about his love for New York, but how he probably stayed a little too long in NY. I can relate, since I feel like I stayed a little too long in LA. We both have lots of love for the places that helped redefine us, but if you’re driven by the spirit of adventure, staying in one place too long is about as close to death as you get with your eyes still open, and one thing you will never say about Beijing is that it’s stagnant.     Speaking of stagnation: I want the show to grow and expand as organically as possible, but to do this, I need YOUR help. Moral support is great, and is sincerely appreciated, but that doesn’t pay the bills. If you like the show, please subscribe to us in iTunes / Apple Podcasts, on Google Play or Castbox, and give us a good rating or even a review. And if you REALLY like it, please visit the SUPPORT page on the website, which is crazyinagoodway.com, and you can make a one-time donation as you see fit. There are links to both PayPal and WeChat Pay, and any amount truly makes a difference. THANK YOU as always for your comments and positive feedback and moral support, and if your support becomes material as well, then that’s amazing.     QMex on WeChat: qmex_mexican_grill *** Marcus Medina interview on FM Lifestyle:  http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/m1Fs0gSUAx7B5nZJPz_dDw *** Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis *** Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux *** BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com *** BFMK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMiddleKingdom/ *** Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/ *** SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/ *** BFMK PayPal direct DONATION link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=K5W6EANCYSQHU  
#022 - The War of Art | Ronald Paredes
This week’s show features artist and graphic designer Ronald Paredes. In it, we discuss the situation back in Ronald’s home country of Venezuela, what it’s been like to move and live in Nanjing for 11 years, his art and design background, charity and non-profit work and much more. Ronald has a serious passion to explore creativity in all its forms, and in his current and upcoming projects, he doesn’t shy away from the artist’s mission to explore life’s most meaningful, if painful, truths.      Note that some episodes are like a packed PowerPoint full of bullet points on a highly focused topic, and those will continue. But sometimes, the interview ended up feeling much more like a conversation between friends, and I think this one is more in that category - in a good way. Ronald and I have talked a good bit on WeChat previously and it was late when we recorded this, so it didn’t seem right to artificially amp it up too much.     I also took a gentler approach to the edit again, leaving more of the natural pauses than I typically do in order to preserve as much of the natural feel as possible this time, because we had WICKED Skype issues. It’s hard to hear Ronald introduce himself up top, I had to cut out some otherwise great chunks that just didn’t clean up enough to be legible, and it still gets a little distorted or “hashy” in places, but Ronald is a thoughtful observer of life and I think the interview is worth saving and posting, so I hope you enjoy.      Unpaid Plug time: Auphonic.com saved this episode, and consistently improves so many others.I started using their service a few shows in, and their algorithms are basically magic. Their service made THIS episode usable (since the Skype demons tried their damnedest to ruin it) but for a better example of what their wizardry when the signal is better (but imperfect) to start with, check out (for example) the Steve Barr episode, which was recorded in a hotel room on my iPhone, but sounds like it’s in a studio     And if you find value from the podcast, please consider SUPPORTING the show by a share, a direct referral, likes and comments on posts, a contribution of some kind (Paypal, WeChat, and bills large and small all accepted) via the various links and means below. Cheers!     Ronald Paredes on WeChat, Instagram, Facebook: mundosanto     Ronald Paredes documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT7Z2tJWlcY&t=357s     Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis     Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux     BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com     BFMK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMiddleKingdom/     Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/     SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/     BFMK PayPal direct DONATION link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=K5W6EANCYSQHU    
#021 - Acting & Education | Gregory Joseph Allen
This week’s guest is stage and screen actor Gregory Joseph Allen. Greg brought a lifetime’s worth of acting training and experience with him when he moved here some years ago from California, and in addition to his own work he now uses his skills and background to teach young actors in Beijing.    Some guests had a very specific goal in mind when they made their first foray to the Middle Kingdom, but Greg talks about moving to China on more of an exploratory impulse and finding his new calling here. I’ve noticed that if you’re lucky, and stick with it through the rough spots, China can do that to you, or maybe I should say, allow you to change yourself in unexpected ways. Good times.   Greg took me back to an upbringing not too unlike parts of my own. We both have fond memories of the now-extinct practice of all the kids in high school (and a few older kids) ”parking” in a big supermarket lot somewhere after a football game or other big school event, and in plain site of everyone, openly drinking beers and being rowdy (but not seriously violent) as they hung out. It was a different world and time, but fun to reminisce about.    We talk about the differences between city versus country upbringings in the US, and how our mix of experiences informed who we are today and how we relate to China. Having seen enormous growth myself in my lifelong journey first across the US, then to Europe and Africa, and now finally to the Far East, I can relate to things here with a much different lens than if I had been either raised here OR never traveled as I did starting from way back home. Greg’s experience is his (of course) but there are a lot of syncs and parallels between us, which really helped me relate to his story even though it’s not exactly my own.   I really appreciated hearing about Greg’s approach to teaching, namely: how he doesn’t just give out gold ribbons for participation, but actually expects students to make the effort to EXCEL, and he rewards excellent work with appropriate recognition while still encouraging those struggling to find their footing. There is an art to doing this that I tried to find when teaching as well, and I still remember today the teachers I had who succeeded at it with me, so I know what a positive difference that makes.   We talk candidly about our thoughts regarding the norms and changing landscapes here as well as back home - economic, political, societal and cultural, etc - and we also get politically specific, in a new twist for the show. Overall I’d say that it gets pretty damn real, and I beeped a few choice words to keep our “Clean” rating, but I left it alone as much as possible in order to own what I think and to allow Greg the same courtesy. You don’t have to agree with either of us to appreciate the show, but let me know what you think regardless.   On a technical note: I used a slightly looser hand with this edit wherever I could, letting it breath a little more naturally, mostly because I thought Greg’s dramatic or thoughtful pauses added to the honesty of his story. He is a trained storyteller, after all, so I think it flows well but doesn’t feel too long (again, in my opinion). As I keep developing the show, I will keep tweaking my approach. Again - let me know, and I hope you enjoy.   Links to all the things are below in the show notes. Now, here’s my interview with Greg Allen.   Greg’s reel: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMjgwMTc2ODc4NA==.html?spm=a2h3j.8428770.3416059.1 * the Queen show at Live Aid that Greg referenced: * https://youtu.be/A22oy8dFjqc  *  http://ultimateclassicrock.com/queen-live-aid/ * Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis * Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux * BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com * BFMK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMiddleKingdom/ * Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/ * SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/ * BFMK PayPal direct DONATION link:  https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=K5W6EANCYSQHU    
#020 - Mountains of Imagination | Martin Barnes
“I used to introduce myself in the wrong way, and I used to talk about the mechanics, because I felt like that’s what people needed to know, and that that’d make me appear to be an expert. But I don’t need to know how my 4G works for me to buy a smartphone. I want to know: what are the results I get? And so I realized by my mistakes, I need to show the audience in my message. So my message went from WHAT I do, to WHY I do it.” - Martin Barnes   Today’s guest is Martin Barnes. Martin is from South London and came to China 14 years ago. He has a very eclectic background and has worn a lot of hats professionally, mostly centered around art and design. He’s created logos, t-shirts - including a run back in the day with past show guest Dominic of Plastered8 - and done loads of work for advertising agencies, major car companies, etc.     His current company though, Mountains of Imagination, is based on designing presentations - you know, the need to stand up in front of a person or a group and drive a PowerPoint as you talk - in a way that you not only most effectively tell your story, but that you ENJOY yourself while doing it, too. The genius of this approach, as I saw for myself firsthand when I heard Martin speak at a event a few weeks ago, is that if you can prepare properly and relax enough to enjoy yourself while speaking, then your audience can relax enough to enjoy listening to you, and the story you’re sharing will stick in a way that isn’t possible otherwise.      This simple insight has proven to be a very successful one for Martin to build a company and a career around, but it’s the life lessons he learned leading up to this moment in his life that he shares in the interview that I think hit home the strongest with me. There’s a relevance in Martin’s methods to communicating that can positively impact ALL endeavors and transactions, both in business and in life. I think this is a very special one, and I hope you enjoy it.     On a personal level, I had a few takeaways that I’d like to share, too...     The first is about WeChat. I’m going to do a totally unpaid plug for WeChat - not that they need it here in Asia, but those of you listening from places where it hasn’t become the norm yet: my advice it to get it - it’s free - and learn it, live it, love it. I have friends & family back home that I’m basically their only WeChat friend, and we use it ALL THE TIME. Get it. Then add me! My WeChat ID is just my name, BrendanDavis, with no space between Brendan and Davis. Easy.     But the conversation also got me thinking about opportunity. As we talk about in the episode, opportunities are everywhere, but the ones in China are particularly significant. And interestingly, it’s the very things that often drive people from more Western cultures a bit crazy here that are the same things that CREATE massive opportunity for innovation.       For my industry, it’s the awareness that China will never be Hollywood. And I don't think for a second that it wants to be. It just wants to be...itself. But it's still discovering what that means. Luckily, I think I can help. Which is why I’M here. :D     On a more universal note, my take on things it that as an outsider, we need for our contributions to bring enough value that we are worth the extra effort it takes for locals to deal with and take care of us (between language issues, cultural difficulties, the higher pay we expect and the higher expectations that go along with that) and vice versa.     Anyway, speaking of opportunity and in the spirit of asking for what you want and need, and since you never know who's listening who might need exactly what I have to offer, I'm going to be super candid here and share that the personal benefit of hearing Martin’s lessons was that it gave me extra fuel to help me work out the business plan for the new company I want to build here - and the show is one small part of that.     I’m proud of the growth in both quality and audience that we’ve had so far, and with support, I can continue to make it better and better and also expose it to a much wider audience, which is essential to make this what I see that it can be.     So if you're a potential sponsor or partner for the show, please reach out and let's discuss what that could look like. And in the meantime: if you feel that you receive value from the show, you can help support it with a share, a like, a comment, or a donation to the cause. Support links to Paypal and WeChat Pay are in the show notes and on the website, crazyinagoodway.com. It's fast, it’s easy, and it would really make a difference. Thanks!     Okay, now on with the show. This one is long and in-depth, and highly practical but fun and philosophical, too. Enjoy it!     Martin Barnes & Mountains of Imagination: http://www.mountainsofimagination.com   Brendan Davis on WeChat: BrendanDavis   Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux   BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com   BFMK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMiddleKingdom/   Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/   SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/   BFMK PayPal direct DONATION link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=K5W6EANCYSQHU    
#019 - Entertainment Law in China | Jesse Weiner
This week’s episode features Jesse Weiner. Jesse is an entertainment lawyer with 10 years experience living and working in China. And although he is based back in Los Angeles now, Jesse expects to spend much more time coming back to China now that the entertainment business here is reaching a new stage of maturation.      First, a few housekeeping notes:     As long time listeners are aware, the release day of the show each week has shifted around a bit since I first launched. This has been due to a variety of reasons, but the last two weeks have drifted to Thursday and I think that will become the new home for now. A practical benefit of this has to do with the time difference between the US and China, and how that affects information flow back and forth, which is often a factor.     For instance, in the unedited raw interview for this episode, Jesse spent about five minutes discussing a particular business deal he had been in the middle of, now closed, that is unprecedented and very interesting. If I released this episode with that chunk of information, it would've been a Big Fish exclusive! But of course, the clients have their own timetable for when they are going to put out their press release, which is “not yet”...and the back-and-forth between the US and China to nail that down pushed us an extra day this week. So I pulled that little chunk out of the final interview. Once the news is announceable, though, I will release it as a very short bonus feature for this episode.     There is a great deal of information in this one, with something for everyone, but lots that is especially of interest to my friends working in the film and TV business internationally or those who follow it. We talk about the current state of evolution of the industry, and do a deep dive into the mechanics of what works and what doesn't work between these two business cultures.      Also, it turns out that Jesse actually had a pretty cool story before ever deciding to enter law school. He has a graduate education in music, and initially came to China as a composer and conductor as well as being a professor at the Central Conservatory, which is the most preeminent music school in China. In the episode he draws a parallel between conducting music and the practice of law that I think probably only he could make, so check it out.       My last note is that while many of the recent few shows lately have had a heavy entertainment business focus, the next few episodes will shift things up a bit. If you’d like to give me feedback about the show in any way, please contact me at the links below. Thanks!     Jesse Weiner: http://www.yingkeinternational.com/office/united-states jesseweiner@yingkelawyer.com     Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux     BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com     BFMK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMiddleKingdom/     Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/     SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/     BFMK PayPal direct DONATION link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=K5W6EANCYSQHU    
#018 - Acting With Purpose | Augusta Xu-Holland
This week's guest is Augusta Xu-Holland. Augusta is from New Zealand, and she came to China originally to be involved in the renewable energy sector here. And like many foreigners before her, she found herself presented with opportunities to appear in film and television. But unlike most of the others, Augusta found success attaining larger and larger roles fairly early into her career here, and she is now a very busy professional actress. She also continues her work in the energy field and can increasingly use her growing profile in the arts to serve as an ambassador for her scientific interests.   This was a particularly enjoyable conversation for me on many levels. Regular listeners to the show know that I have a lot of friends and connections to New Zealand, so discovering NZ overlap between Augusta and I was a treat. But speaking strictly in a professional context, Augusta has a real insider's view of well the film and TV industry works here from an actor's perspective, so hearing her take on the ins and outs of the business was very enlightening for me and I think it will be interesting for you as well. As a special treat, Augusta runs through a handy check list of tips, tricks, and advice for people looking to work as talent in China and discusses some of the resources one needs to be familiar with to do so. But even if you're listening to this episode from a couch in Birmingham, Alabama, there's a lot to relate to, so I hope you enjoy it!   Augusta Xu-Holland online: www.augustaxuholland.com  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7468083/     Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux     BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com     BFMK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMiddleKingdom/     Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/     SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/     BFMK PayPal direct DONATION link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=K5W6EANCYSQHU    
#017 - Chef de China  | Jeff Powell
This week’s guest is Jeff Powell: owner and chef of Frost here in Beijing, but that only scratches the surface of his impressive career. In addition to being a master chef and an executive consultant in his industry, Jeff is also a father, a family man, and a very nice guy. In the interview, he’s incredibly open about the challenges and the downsides of his time here as well as generous with sharing valuable business information that will be applicable to almost anyone trying to build or launch an endeavor of their own here, too, so there’s lots to enjoy and learn from.    Jeff’s background includes a stint as Sous Chef at the world-famous Stars restaurant in San Francisco for Jeremiah Tower, who is widely acknowledged as the father of California & New American Cuisine and a man who Anthony Bourdain called “the first celebrity chef”. An interesting twist on the narrative is that while Jeff was cooking his way to glory in San Francisco, he also became a well-known rave DJ! But eventually he moved to China, and that’s where his life truly changed. During his time here, Jeff has had great successes, learned tough lessons, and learned loads to share that I found to be very moving as he told his story.   As they say in the restaurant business, we get seriously into the weeds a bit regarding the restaurant industry, but we jump around a lot too, from the professional to the personal, so I hope you enjoy the ride.    Links to find out more about Jeff’s restaurant Frost or to learn more about me, the show, or to show your support in any way are included in the show notes below. Now, please enjoy my interview with Jeff Powell!     Jeff Powell’s Frost: http://www.thebeijinger.com/blog/2017/06/26/xingfucun-thaw-frost-returns-comfort-food-troubled-neighborhood     Jeremiah Tower interview: http://www.bonappetit.com/story/jeremiah-tower-last-magnificent-interview     SUPPORT BFMK via PayPal or WeChat: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/donate/     BFMK PayPal direct DONATION link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=K5W6EANCYSQHU     Brendan Davis on Twitter: @VeritasInLux     BFMK website: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com     BFMK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigFishMiddleKingdom/     Other links to LISTEN: https://www.crazyinagoodway.com/podcast-links/
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#008 - Acting in China, Los Angeles & London | Matthew Knowles

#008 - Acting in China, Los Angeles & London | Matthew Knowles